Irish explorer Tim Severin set sail from Oman on Sunday (23 November) aboard the replica of an early Arab trading vessel.
GV ZOOM TO SV The Sohar at anchor in Muscat Naval Base
CU Oman national flag flying on stern of ship
SV Boats at anchor in harbour (2 shots)
SV Explorer Tim Severin with Omani officials
LS ZOOM TO GV Onlookers on roof of building
SV Chinese officials and Omani naval officer on gallery overlooking harbour, with naval officer kissing Koran, contained in red box (2 shots)
GV Sohar at anchor in harbour surrounded by small boats
GV Severin shaking hands with local officials
GV ZOOM TO SCU Naval officer carrying Koran to shore between lines of naval ratings, followed by Severin and second officer
SV PAN Omani sailors watch launch taking Severin and naval officers to Sohar (2 shots)
LS Severin and naval officers climb on board Sohar
SV Crew on board Sohar as it gets under sail
SV People on quayside watch as Sohar sails away
GV Sohar leaving harbour
GV Omani battle ship
SV Sohar under full sail
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Background: Irish explorer Tim Severin set sail from Oman on Sunday (23 November) aboard the replica of an early Arab trading vessel. Tim Severin and his crew of historians and marine scientists will re-live the adventures of the legendary Sinbad the Sailor on an eight-months voyage to China. The expedition traces the age-old sea route of the Arabs to the Orient. Their vessel, the Sohar, a wooden ship held together only by coconut rope, will be guided on the 10,000 kilometres (6,000 miles) journey only by the stars, in the manner of the early Arab deep sea navigators.
SYNOPSIS: The sohar could have been Sinbad's ship. Built from wood hand-picked in the forests of India, the hull was painstakingly fashioned from hand-shaped planks laid edge of edge with tolerances of less than a millimetre (1/64 th inch).
Omani officials came to see off Tim Severin. The Irishman has already made the headlines when he sailed across the Atlantic in a leather boat, proving that ancient Irish monks could have made the journey long before Columbus discovered America. With this latest venture, Tim Severin intends to find the truth behind the legendary voyages of Sinbad. He was arguably the world's most famous sailor, although he never lived, except in the yarns of early Arab seamen. But Tim Severin believes there is some truth in the fables.
In line with Arab tradition, a copy of the Koran -- carried aboard by an Omani naval officer -- will accompany the expedition. Apart from the presence of scientific equipment, a radio and a cassette tape player, life aboard the Sohar will be much the way it was for the early sailors. Food will be fresh fish, fruit, nuts, dates and rice. And like the early sailors, Tim Severin, and his crew will navigate by the stars, aided by a chart of small ancient tablets strung on a cord.
The start of Tim Severin's voyage across the Arabian Sea and the Indian Ocean coincides with the month-long celebrations of Oman's tenth National Day. But more important perhaps there is an old Arab saying: "Only madmen or Christians sail against the wind." And it is only at the end of the year that the northeastern monsoon winds will carry the Sohar across the Arabian Sea into the southwestern monsoon winds of the Indian Ocean.
If the winds oblige, Tim Severin and his crew aboard the Sohar will reach Hong Kong by mid-July next year. By then they hope to have proved -- or disproved -- the legends of Sinbad the Sailor.